Combat drone and electronic warfare, the Rafale F5 will be ready for high operational and commercial intensity in 2030

Last July, when discussions were at a standstill between Dassault Aviation and Airbus DS on the subject of industrial sharing around the first pillar of the FCAS program, Eric Trappier, the CEO of the French aircraft manufacturer, undertook a media offensive in order to present the alternatives for France if the European combat aircraft program were to collapse.

The solution then proposed by Dassault was then based on the design of a major evolution of the Rafale F5, a sort of Super-Rafale, associated with a medium combat drone of the Loyal Wingman type derived from the technological achievements of the nEUROn program.

A month later, in an article published on Meta-defense, we presented several arguments in favor of such a comparable approach, based on a version dedicated to electronic warfare of the Rafale as well as a Loyal Wingman derived from the Neuron, both being considered essential in the years to come, whether the FCAS program comes to a standstill, or not.

Obviously, the Ministry of the Armed Forces, as well as the staffs of the Air and Space Force and the National Navy, had also conducted a comparable reasoning.

Indeed, within the framework of the Military Programming Law 2024-2030, it was quickly admitted thatit was now essential to provide the Rafale, in its future versions, capabilities to suppress enemy anti-aircraft defenses, represented by the English acronym SEAD.

The air war in Ukraine demonstrated, if need be, the threat that modern anti-aircraft systems represent today for those who intend to obtain air superiority, and above all for whom, like France and the whole of the Western armed forces, entrusted its air forces with much of its own firepower.

Before Rafale F5 in 2030, the F4 version will begin to join units of the Air Force and the National Navy in the years to come
Before Rafale F5 in 2030, the F4 version will begin to join units of the Air Force and the National Navy in the years to come

The SEAD capabilities that will equip the Rafale in the years to come, partly on the F4 standard and fully on the F5 standard, will most likely rely on the development of new air-to-ground anti-radiation munitions capable of redirecting a radar beam to destroy the transmitter.

The device will also contain powerful jammers which will allow a Rafale not only to protect itself, but also other allied aircraft operating in the area and not having electronic warfare systems as efficient as its own SPECTRA, such as less advanced fighters, drones and helicopters.

Le Rafale thus equipped which will equip the French air forces over the next decade, will thus be relatively close to the dedicated version imagined in the August article of Meta-Défense. On the other hand, nothing has indicated until now that a Loyal Wingman type combat drone would be developed to support the Rafale. It’s now done!

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